Conference Paper

Mapping socio-economic barriers to the implementation of energy efficiency policies in the UK building sector


In 2015 the UK building sector accounted for 43% (29% domestic, 14% commercial) of the national energy consumption, thereby positioning this sector as critical in meeting national energy efficiency targets. However, barriers to energy efficiency are vast and complex, and overcoming them is a key challenge for effective implementation of energy efficiency policies. This paper describes the findings from a review of literature and an expert survey to map and assess the key social, cultural, educational, economic and institutional barriers (in terms of small, medium and high impact) to implementing energy efficiency policies across the UK building sector. Overall the barriers are found to be strongly linked with consumer behaviour. They are often highly complex with multiple inter-relations. The barriers with the highest impact comprise the undervaluing of energy efficiency, lack of motivation and inertia within consumers/end users, infrastructural and planning barriers to medium sized energy projects as well as practical and construction-related barriers such as a lack of skills and adequate standards. Economic barriers such as upfront/capital costs and the lack of adequate or misaligned financial incentives also appear to be significant. Surveys of experts showed that the top two most important barriers in the building sector to overcome were the socioeconomic status of building users (11.7% of experts) and lack of funds or access to finance (10% of experts). Although there are several UK policies that aim to target some of these barriers, a number of UK’s energy policies (Green Deal, Zero Carbon Homes) have recently been scrapped, and consultation is out on how to proceed in terms of UK national energy efficiency policy within this sector.

Attached files


Gupta, Rajat
Gregg, Matthew

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment\School of Architecture


Year of publication: 2017
Date of RADAR deposit: 2017-09-25

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